KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Thursday handed down 20-year jail term to an Islamic State-inspired graduate, Saad Aziz, for making an attempt on the life of American educationist Debra Lobo.
Saad Aziz, alias Tin Tin, was found guilty of shooting at and wounding Ms Lobo, the vice principal of Karachi’s Jinnah Medical and Dental College, on Shaheed-i-Millat Road in April 2015.
The ATC-XI judge, who conducted trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his verdict reserved earlier after recording the evidence and final arguments from the prosecution and the defence.
In his judgement, the judge noted that the prosecution had successfully proved the charges levelled against the detained accused, Saad Aziz, beyond a shadow of a doubt, as the evidence fully supported the prosecution’s case.
The judge awarded 10-year imprisonment to the accused for attempted murder under Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Debra Lobo, hit in the face and a hand, survived the shooting
Furthermore, the detained business graduate was also handed down another 10-year imprisonment for committing an “act of terror” punishable under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
According to the prosecution, the veteran educationist was on her way to her residence in the Defence Housing Authority in a car when the attack took place at around 3pm. Although she survived the attack, Ms Lobo suffered two bullet wounds on her hand and face.
A case under Section 324 (attempted murder) and Section 7 (acts of terrorism) was registered against him at the Ferozabad police station.
In his statement, under Section 342 of the CrPC, Saad Aziz denied the allegations put forward by the prosecution against him and claimed his innocence in the present case.
His defence counsel Mohammad Jiwani contended that his client was framed in the present case despite the fact that there was no evidence available to establish his role in the commission of the crime he was accused of.
He further argued that the prosecution claimed to have seized a pistol on a lead given by Saad Aziz after 15 days of his arrest in the present case, which cast serious doubts on the recovery and evidence.
The counsel pointed out that after the order was reserved in the matter, the prosecution had moved an application, under Section 540 (power to summon material witness or examine persons present) of the CrPC, for recording ‘additional’ evidence since there was no evidence to prove its allegations against the detained accused.
‘Contradictions’ in evidence
He further argued that the additional evidence of three police officials was full of contradictions while three reports of the ballistic analysis also failed to establish that the weapon in question was used by Saad Aziz in the commission of the alleged crime.
On the other hand, an assistant prosecutor general for the state contended that the empty casings of bullets, secured from the scene where Ms Lobo was shot, were sent to the forensic science laboratory for a ballistic analysis. They stated that the casings had matched with the 0.9mm calibre pistol which had also been used in the Safoora Goth bus carnage.
The prosecutor further claimed that the same weapon was later recovered on the information given by Aziz, adding that the testimonies of the case’s investigating officer, the ballistic expert and a police official had fully corroborated the other evidence.
The prosecutor further argued that even an eyewitness had identified Saad Aziz as the primary shooter in the incident, during an identification parade conducted by a judicial magistrate.
Therefore, the court was asked to punish the detained accused for making an attempt on the life of the senior educationist strictly in accordance with the law.
Aziz, a business graduate from a prestigious Karachi institution, and his accomplices were handed over to military authorities in January 2016 to face trial before military courts in 18 cases, including the Safoora Goth bus carnage, murder of Sabeen Mahmud, killing of policemen, attempted murder and carrying explosive substances and illicit weapons.
The military court had sentenced Saad Aziz, Tahir Minhas, Asadur Rehman, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir Ahmed to death in May 2016 in these cases.
Later, the convicts were handed back to jail authorities to face trial in other cases pending before antiterrorism courts.
Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2019